The Overcoat

The Overcoat Metaphors and Similes

Akaky's neck (simile)

“... so that though his neck was not long, it looked extraordinarily long protruding from this collar, as with those head-wagging plaster kittens that foreign peddlers carry about by the dozen on their heads.” (p. 397)

The low and narrow collar of Akaky's uniform is described as making his neck look extremely long, like those of the novelty plaster kittens sold by peddlers.

Petrovich's staircase "dressed" in refuse (metaphor)

“Climbing the stairway leading to Petrovich, which, to do it justice, was all dressed with water and swill…” (p. 400-1)

Here, the staircase leading to Petrovich's house is metaphorically described as being "dressed" in water and swill, which is kitchen refuse or scraps, when "dressed" is normally a word describing clothes.

Russia infected by imitation (metaphor)

“Thus everything in holy Russia is infected with imitation, and each one mimics and apes his superior.” (p. 415)

In this metaphor, the narrator compares the preoccupation with status in Russia to a disease, metaphorically using the word "infected," which is borrowed from medical language.

Petrovich as Turkish pasha (simile)

“... he saw Petrovich sitting on a wide, unpainted wooden table, his legs tucked under him like a Turkish pasha’s.”

Petrovich is described as sitting like a Turkish pasha, a title conferred to officers of high rank.

The girl in the street (simile and metaphor)

"Akaky Akakievich walked along in a merry state of mind, and even suddenly ran, for some unknown reason, after some lady who passed by like lightning, every part of whose body was filled with extraordinary movement. However, he stopped straight away and again walked very slowly..." (p. 412)

Here, the movement of this stranger in the street is described in a simile as being "like lightning." However, it also functions as a metaphor for the way in which Akaky has been changed by this new overcoat: he, for the first time, has an instinct towards pursuing a woman.